Kicking the can down the road has been given a bad rap.
Political usage of the game’s title has come to mean a shirking of responsibility or procrastinating or hoping someone else will take care of a problem. This meaning has little connection to the game of years past. While foreign to most children of today, the game in its simplest form consisted of moving a ball down a street to a goal, despite challenges or attempts by others to interfere.
Political usage aside, this game would have few players today for many reasons.
You say that the idea of kicking the can down the road is antiquated, not in keeping with the demands and expectations in your life. It’s a joke. Who works or lives this way now?
You are impatient. You demand achievement that speaks to your high standards and to your big vision.
You don’t have time to fool around with a kid’s game. You have to finish your dissertation. You should have finished it two years ago.
Unfortunately, though, because of the project’s enormity, your dissertation process is out of control. In fact, it has stalled, and you’re stuck.
There is another way. The alternative to living with an impasse and doing nothing is to narrow the process, focus on what is doable each day, and make the execution manageable.
A big project of any kind particularly that of writing a dissertation, needs to be divided into manageable chunks. Instead of approaching the dissertation like a house on fire, as my grandmother would say, you need a straightforward, doable plan that you can approach one step, or one kick, at a time. Something simple and elegant.
I like the image of a kid on the road, alone and calm. If you look closely at the kid, he is not aimlessly kicking, but focused and determined. And he is moving the can forward. Sure, there may be some learning involved if you want to try this. Such an old-school approach may not come naturally. You need practice.
Focusing on the goal of small, steady gains takes determination and mental toughness to keep at it. But with the feeling of success that comes only from moving forward, your motivation will grow, helping you to stick with the project. And you will eventually reach that destination—of finishing your dissertation.
Kicking the can down the road seems about the right pace to get things done. It suggests the old adage of “slow and steady wins the race.”
How about you? How is your approach working? Would small, steady gains help you finish your dissertation?
I would love to hear from you.
Here’s to small and steady gains–
Nancy Whichard, Ph.D., PCC
Your International Dissertation Coach and Academic Career Coach
nancy @ nancywhichard.com